De Bethune introduces a new watch in the DB29 case with two faces, and a flip case – their Kind of Two Tourbillon – two dials, two identities, one movement.
Press release information with commentary in italics.
Retail price is set at SGD 316,700 inclusive of GST,
As mentioned in the release literature, double sided watches are not new. One single movement, driving two faces. Perhaps the most famous is the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Duoface – one of the many to choose from the JLC catalog. The Reverso feature the famous case in a carriage sits in rails and can be flipped with a special mechanism. JLC mastered the case design and manufacture, and the feel of flipping the case over is positive and a pleasure to execute.
More recently, Marco Lang introduced his Zweigesicht-1, where the watch case is flipped by just switching the lugs around, a mechanically simpler solution, albeit a bit more “scary to do yourself” solution. And back in the day, Daniel Roth began his independent career showcasing his Double Face Tourbillon which did not even bother with any system to do the switcheroo – it is just dual face. To wear the other side, would need to flip the straps.
Another example, perhaps more interesting is the Hamilton Jazzmaster Face to Face II – though the Face to Face I had two movements back to back, the second version had only one movement driving a time display on one face, and when the case is flipped, shows the chronograph. The Hamilton manages to do this at a super reasonable price of SSG 5,730, and very well indeed – especially considering the flipping mechanism is complex, and the single movement displaying time on one side and a chronograph on the other is also very complicated. Made possible by the resources of the giant Swatch Group.
But this De Bethune adds another level to the “complication”. The two dials provide two separate identities, like many of the others. The flipping mechanism is more similar to the Hamilton than the familiar Reverso. And the movement is not as simple as just extending the pinions like Reverso Duetto or even the Duo Face, which provides two timezones, one on each dial. But far more complicated. On one dial, the Kind of Two Tourbillon looks contemporary and avant garde, while the other is totally classical. On the front dial, the avant garde De Bethune is revealed with the iconic shield motif and tourbillon, while on the other classical dial, the indication of time is via very simple time only display with a central sweep seconds.
We do note that the pricing is rather steep at SGD 317,600.
Presenting the De Bethune Kind of Two Tourbillon with Deployant Editorial commentary
Double-sided watches are not a recent invention. For more than two centuries, these singular mechanisms have been born at the hands of erudite watchmakers, open to the new ideas of the Age of Enlightenment and often inspired by astronomy, the decorative arts as well as mechanical engineering.
With horologists increasingly driven by the temptation to develop ever more complicated models, double-sided cases became increasingly prevalent, a solution enabling their creators to express the full scope of their aesthetic and technical expertise by making it possible to display a greater number of functions.
The history of horology has been punctuated by certain major accomplishments in this respect. Already during the Renaissance, tower clocks – the most famous of which is located in Venice – had several faces. A little later, certain table clocks with their vertical, four-faceted dials also displayed several identities within a single object. This was followed by pocket watches also featuring two dials, the best-known being the Leroy 01 by Louis Leroy – presented in 1900 and winner of the Grand Prix at the Paris World Fair – which long remained the most complicated watch ever created.
A contemporary take on the double-sided watch
Double-sided watches hold a special place in the realm of highly complicated watches. Beneath the apparent simplicity of this timepiece, De Bethune has clearly not taken the easiest path with this model involving two dials that embody a real watchmaking challenge. Views from back and front reveal an authentic transformation.
This was an idea that had been taking shape for many years in the mind of Denis Flageollet, who was convinced that it would offer him an unprecedented field of research and the opportunity to provide a different, contemporary interpretation. Just as with the invention of his silicon balance and balance-spring, as well as the famous floating lugs, it would enable him to make another contribution to the advancement of horology.
Two very different faces, both aesthetically and technically
The DB Kind of Two Tourbillon is perfectly reversible and can be worn on either side according to the mood of the moment. This model houses a highly sophisticated mechanism based on a complex system of gears and pinions arranged on the front or back of the watch, and which enables the hands to turn in the right direction, regardless of the dial chosen.
Central seconds on one side? Shift the display of this indication to 6 o’clock on the other? Add a tourbillon that would be invisible on the other side? Opt for a modern or more traditional design? The initial inspiration was to create a watch with two very different identities, of which the aesthetic aspect guided the technical design of the new calibre entirely developed by Manufacture De Bethune at L’Auberson in the Swiss Jura.
The front side of the DB Kind of Two Tourbillon displays a dial featuring a sleek, contemporary design, with central hours and minutes hands as well as a tourbillon at 6 o’clock, complete with a 30-second indication. Extensive work has been done on integrating polished, curved shapes, matt or glossy components, different thicknesses and levels, thereby creating a sensation of ample space and optimal volume, given the minimum height available for a tourbillon watch. A new type of deltoid-shaped bridge – this time perfectly symmetrical – is positioned in the centre, like an isosceles triangle that contributes to the overall sense of harmony.
The other side reveals a dial based on more traditional aesthetic inspiration, with a finely hand-guilloché central part surrounded by the numerals already featured on the dials of De Bethune models such as the DB8 and DB10. The tourbillon with its seconds has vanished, and on this face the hours, minutes and more surprisingly the seconds hands are all centrally positioned. This represents an extremely subtle technical challenge that is not necessarily perceptible at first glance, and therein lies the elegance of this timepiece.
Floating lugs playing their role to the full
Every detail has been taken into consideration. Easy to use, yet highly complex, the system of floating lugs lends itself particularly well to the “pivoting” of the case. This system is remarkably similar in concept, at first glance to the Hamilton, though the De Bethune features their floating lug system on top of the flip mechanism.
Redesigned for the occasion, these elements have been equipped on each side with an ingenious little rotating mechanism made up of 28 components. For reliability purposes, they are manufactured in stainless materials such as surgical steel or titanium, thus enabling them to withstand the external aggressions of water, humidity, temperature variations and continuous contact with the skin.
Thanks to a cam, a small “notch” allows the watch case to be instinctively and perfectly positioned in line with the floating lugs. The round case rotates on its central axis and can be positioned, front or back, in a delightfully easy, smooth and entirely natural way.
The DB29, a case middle inherently suited to a swivel watch
Finally, the DB29’s case middle quickly became a key element in the pivoting case project developed by De Bethune. Its perfectly symmetrical shape offers a beautiful balance with the floating lugs and its elegant crown totally integrated at 12 o’clock (or 6 o’clock depending on the side chosen). It thus swivels naturally and the circumference principle is patently obvious, offering a true understanding of the object.
All in all, with its elegant design, the combination of contemporary mechanics with a more traditional face, as well as the meticulous care devoted to details, legibility and comfort, the DB Kind of Two Tourbillon perfectly illustrates one of the great principles of the Manufacture De Bethune: reinterpreting grand traditions with a contemporary vision of the horological object, thereby opening up a new field of expression that is refined and sophisticated while preserving user-friendliness and simple read-off. A work of art with two faces, whose timeless beauty reflects mechanical and aesthetic perfection.
De Bethune Kind of Two Tourbillon Technical specifications
Functions: Dual front and back display of hours and minutes, Seconds, Ultra-light De Bethune 30’’ tourbillon in titanium
Type: Mechanical hand-wound movement
Adjustment: Winding and setting the time by means of the crown (2 positions)
Technical features of calibre DB2579
Number of parts: 256
Jewelling: 32 rubis
Diameter: 30 mm
Power reserve: 5 days, ensured by a self-regulating twin barrel
De Bethune Innovation (2004)
Specificities: Titanium balance wheel with white gold inserts, optimised for temperature differences and air penetration
De Bethune Patent (2016)
“De Bethune” balance-spring with flat terminal curve
De Bethune Patent (2006)
Silicon escape wheel
Ultra-light De Bethune 30’’ tourbillon in titanium
De Bethune Innovation (2008)
Frequency: 36,000 vibrations per hour
Adornment:Motion works bridge and concave cover plate in grade 5 titanium, mirror-polished
Polished and chamfered barrel bridge, with shot-blasted stages
Polished and chamfered titanium minute bridge with microlight decoration
Hand snailed barrels
Steel parts polished and chamfered by hand
Contemporary single-sided display
Display: hand-polished and blued titanium for hours and minutes with polished inserts
Ultra-light De Bethune 30’’ tourbillon in titanium
De Bethune Innovation (2008)
Dial: Hour ring and 30” polished titanium dial with shot-blasted stages
Blued polished titanium hour-markers
Silvered and relief minute dial
Classic reverse side display
Display: hand-polished and blued titanium for hours, minutes and seconds
Dial: Dial silvered and relief, with convex levels and guilloché central part
Case and strap
Case material: Grade 5 titanium
Case diameter: 42.8 mm
Case thickness: 9.5 mm
Crown : at noon on the front, at 6 o’clock on the back, and integrated into the case
Lugs: Polished grade 5 titanium floating lugs –
De Bethune Patent (2006)
With case turning mechanism that can be clearly positioned on the front or back side
Crystal doubles-sides: In sapphire crystal (1800 Vickers hardness) with double anti-reflective coating
Water resistance: 3 ATM
Strap: Extra-supple alligator leather, alligator lining
Buckle: Pin buckle in polished grade 5 titanium